Diezel Wilkinson is an efficient sufficient athlete he may play at any faculty and any classification he wished to. And why not? With the state’s pretty lax switch guidelines, yearly dozens of gamers within the space transfer from one faculty district to a different searching for enjoying time or an opportunity to shine within the postseason.
However Wilkinson, the East Valley junior and reigning Larger Spokane League 2A all-purpose MVP, is aware of the place he grew up.
“It’s positively vital for me to remain from my roots,” he stated after follow final week. “I’ve at all times been within the East Valley district since I used to be a child.
“These coaches, these academics – man, they only actually admire me not just for the participant, however for the individual I’m. No matter I can do to present again to this group and no matter they’ll do to get me to the subsequent stage is simply going to assist tremendously.”
Coach Tom Griggs is aware of he has a particular participant – and individual – in Wilkinson. His friends appear to gravitate towards him.
“That’s the form of child he’s, the form of participant he’s,” Griggs stated. “I feel that’s one more reason why he has aspirations, why schools are taking a look at him. It’s due to that stuff. These intangibles that aren’t simply soccer.
“He’s not simply charismatic and enjoyable to observe on the soccer area, however I feel that’s why we obtained a handful of additional youngsters (flip) out was due to his persona and management and (youngsters) eager to be round that. I commend him for that greater than the rest.”
Wilkinson takes pleasure in his coach’s sentiment.
“That positively makes me really feel good,” he stated. “Me and (Griggs) do a number of work collectively simply making an attempt to get youngsters out, get youngsters hyped for soccer.
“Up to now few years, lots of people checked out East Valley as form of simply some other outdated group, however we’re actually making an attempt to show this mentality round that we’re the most effective on the market. So, it makes me really feel actually good that I’m in a position to get youngsters out right here and simply get hyped as much as play.”
Wilkinson performed largely receiver developing. Halfway via final season, Griggs requested him to modify to quarterback to be able to enhance Wilkinson’s touches. The pupil was hesitant at first, in accordance with Griggs, however got here round to the logic of it.
“I can play wherever coach wants me to be,” Wilkinson stated. “I’m all in regards to the group and enjoying wherever it’s to assist us win. And that’s positively gonna assist on the subsequent stage to simply having the ability to leap round from place to place wherever coaches want me.”
“He has aspirations to play on the subsequent stage at receiver, however I feel we offered him final yr,” Griggs stated. “His freshman yr, he caught seven balls in a single recreation. And I stated, ‘You may proceed to be receiver and catch seven or you possibly can have 30-plus snaps a recreation.’
“By the top of final season, I feel he discovered the place our imaginative and prescient was and match into that actual properly. I’m pleased with him. Everyone can see the athlete he’s proper now, however so far as a group participant and a teammate and a pacesetter and a captain he’s come leaps and bounds and I’m pleased with him for that.”
“It was new to me final yr, however I feel I’m beginning to adapt to it fairly properly,” Wilkinson stated. “This season ought to be fairly just like final season. It shouldn’t be too laborious of a transition this yr.”
Wilkinson’s aim this season is to hurry for greater than 2,000 yards. He admitted that throwing the ball isn’t his sturdy go well with, however he additionally stated groups shouldn’t sleep on his arm.
“We positively have some issues up our sleeves and I’ve been working a bit bit within the offseason, simply making an attempt to get it. Get only one thing more in my arsenal.”
East Valley had its finest season in current reminiscence final yr, going 6-4 total and 3-2 in league – ending the marketing campaign with regular-season wins over West Valley and Clarkston, then beating the 2 once more in a three-way tiebreaker to qualify for the postseason.
Griggs and Wilkinson need to get again there this season, however additionally they know the Knights received’t be ignored this yr.
“I’m positively able to get again to it,” Wilkinson stated. “It’s what I stay for, it’s what I get pleasure from essentially the most. Undoubtedly excited to get again on the sector with my teammates and my coaches and get again to what I do.”
“We’re gonna do what we do finest, and we’ll see the place it takes us. Playoffs is an enormous factor to work ahead to, however we obtained to get there one recreation at a time.”
There’s a tangible enthusiasm across the program – greater than 60 gamers turned out this season, permitting Griggs to area a JV group for the primary time since he joined the Knights.
“It’s encouraging post-COVID,” he stated. “I do know a number of coaches are in that boat, however we have been afraid of the numbers. However they’re coming again into form of the ‘regular’ vary and that’s encouraging.
“It’s at all times a ‘what if’ till cleats hit the grass, however we have now them (at follow) and our numbers are strong now going into (the season). We’re trying ahead to the chances.”
However it’s not simply in regards to the gamers.
“I’m enthusiastic about my employees too,” Griggs stated. “I didn’t have a full employees via COVID as a result of we misplaced a pair guys on the finish of the season previous to COVID, after which COVID it was like no one wished to do something.
“So, getting a full employees again, having a JV group, it’s form of an ideal storm proper now and to have Diezel within the combine, it’s the feather in our cap.”